Saturday, July 26, 2014

Guest Photographer: Mark Casebeer

As the weekend nears, I begin to think about what my next photography subject will be for my blog.  It occurred to me that I might share the work of photographer Mark Casebeer, who happens to be my younger brother. 

Mark has an interesting story about how he developed his passion for photography:

My photography journey started by accident.  I really loved photography, but knew nothing. One morning, coming home from a long night working third shift, I saw an older gentlemen shooting pictures down in the weeds by a pond.  I thought, boy he must be serious to be up at 6 am shooting.  I'm not sure why, but I turned around and stopped to talk with him.  I must say he was not very friendly at first.  We talked a few minutes and then I asked him:  Do you ever give lessons?  He said he was really not interested but did suggest a few books.  I thanked him and I thought that would be the last I would see of him.


A few days later I had a knock on the door.  I opened the door and to both of our surprise, it was the gentleman I had stopped and talked to.  My neighbor next door had a  wonderful flower garden and he thought it was mine. I helped him get permission to take some photos and the more we talked, the friendlier he became.

My old friend was William Lampas, now deceased.  Bill and I were an unlikely match.  He was an accomplished wildlife/nature photographer (published and had several agents) and I really didn't know anything about a camera except where to push the shutter button. 

Bill, at the time in his eighties, knew just about everything anyone could possibly know about cameras. He had a passion for wildlife that I had never seen.  His favorite place was Africa.  He had some stunning images.  All of his images were taken before the digital age so if you didn't know what you were doing, it could cost you a bundle. 
Me, the computer guy, had that same passion with Photoshop.  The digital age was just starting with advancements in camera technology.  Bill would not believe how great it is today.  Bill was very smart and, even at his age, knew with these advancements, change was coming.

We started a friendship with Bill helping me learn how a camera works and I started teaching him Photoshop. We had a lot of fun and he was an amazing, fast learner.  It wasn't long before he purchased a Nikon slide scanner and was scanning, processing, and printing his own slide film. 

I think the biggest thing I learned working with Bill is that if you have a real passion you can learn just about anything.  Take the time to help others as you never know what it can led to.  My passion started with a little door knock. 
 Besides excelling at wildlife and landscape photography, as shown in his images above, Mark also enjoys photographing people.
Concert photography is once of his specialties.  Here is his image of blues singer Bernard Allison at the Marshall Blues Fest.

And this is Mark's photo of Deanna Bogart singing and playing keyboard at the Kalamazoo Valley Blues Fest. 

But the subject of most of Mark's photography is his grandchildren.  With fourteen grandchildren (and three more on the way), Mark is often shooting families, children, holiday and birthday gatherings, sporting events, and recitals.  

 The two images above are of granddaughter Brooklyn.  And below is Payton, intent with grit and concentration on commanding the soccer ball.

Thank you, Mark, for sharing your beautiful images and being willing to be my first guest photographer.


Sunday, July 20, 2014

Sharing our Environment

I've never had much fondness for racoons.  They have wreaked havoc getting into my bird feeders and eating voraciously at the feed blocks I set out for the deer.  On occasion, however, I succumb to how cute these critters can be.

This spring the numbers of racoons seemed especially large.  I'd put out a fresh deer block and it would be nearly gone the next morning.  I knew there were fawns in the area that I wasn't getting the chance to see, so I decided to trap and relocate a few in order to reduce the numbers.  While it didn't completely eliminate the racoons, it did reduce the numbers.

And as soon as I put out a new feed block, I had a visiting doe almost immediately.

It wasn't long before a fawn joined in with sharing the feed block with her mother.

A second fawn joined in the feasting shortly.

At the far end of the feeding area, another doe was watching.  There was a second, longer lasting feed block near her, but she seemed hesitant to join the other deer who were feeding.

At first, I wondered whether one of the fawns could be hers because one of the fawns had briefly joined the loner doe at the second block.

But the question of ownership was cleared up as one of the fawns returned to its mother and began nursing.

It's clear I must share the area with raccoons and other critters, but I most enjoy watching these beautiful deer families.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

The Harvest Is Coming

While I've never worked on a farm, my mother's family was from a long line of fruit farmers in the South Haven area, Kibbie in particular.  I have fond memories of wandering through the orchards during my summers there with my great-grandparents.  I especially loved fresh peaches and would come back sticky wet from picking and eating the sumptuous fruit.  I'm feeling some of those old rhythms now as the harvest approaches.

Cherries will be first and I can see some kinds are really close to being ready.

Others are not.  Or maybe they're a different kind of cherry.  I did notice that many trees weren't yet heavy laden with fruit.   In fact, in the photos that I took of whole trees, the cherries were barely visible.

The Saskatoons will be next up to harvest.  They are on their way to purple.

These berries, drenched in morning dew, will soon be ready for rich jams and berry pies.

The apples will be last.  Some are still so green, they are nearly indistinguishable from the leaves.

Those with the first blush of red remind me of the season yet to come.  And I don't want to think ahead that far.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

The 4th of July: Northport Style

Everyone knows that Northport has the best 4th of July celebration in the area.  The village is alive with visitors and crowds enjoy live music with the Village Voices, Northport Community Band, and the Leo Creek band.  The town was rocking!  But all the music was really a prelude to the big show:  Fireworks! 

 Like shooting the full moon, photographing fireworks is a challenge because of the amount of contrast between the dark sky and the extremely bright fireworks.  This is the fourth year I've tried to shoot fireworks.  Key ingredients for successful photographs include a combination of knowing how to execute the mechanics of fireworks shooting, having a good location, and, well, luck.  The above photo from 2013 shows I have a LOT to learn! 

I began scouting for a good location soon after the 2013 4th of July.  I'd tried being in Marina Park with the crowds, but there was so much activity I couldn't think about my camera settings.  I'd also tried shooting from Braman Hill, but it was too far away.  But this year, I found the perfect place and asked permission to shoot from a business that was away from the crowds, but close enough to capture the show.

I liked being close to the water so I could catch the reflection of the fireworks on the bay.

This year I worked on my technique by learning to use Bulb mode.  With that setting, I controlled when to open and close the shutter through the use of a remote shutter release. 

Using this new method, I'd open the shutter by holding down a button on the remote shutter release and let it go when the shot was completed.  The trick was all in the timing.  I'd do my first click as the boom of the fireworks sounded and then I'd release it after the fireworks began to fade.

And believe me, my thumb was sore after clicking for 221 images!

 While there are similarities between full moon and fireworks photography, there is one big difference between the two.  I can practice full moon shooting once every month, but I can only shoot fireworks once or twice a year.

Regardless of the outcome, shooting fireworks is a challenging and enjoyable type of photography.  And, for the first time, I'm getting images that are beginning to resemble fireworks.  :-)